Cleveland Bay Horses

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Cleveland Bay Horses

BREED: Cleveland Bay horses
TEMPERAMENT: usually placid
COST: $2000 plus
LIFESPAN: 25 years
RECOMMENDED FOR: experienced riders and coach work


Cleveland Bay horses are large, handsome horses, standing between 16-17 hands (a hand is equivalent to 10cm or 4″). They have large convex heads and a deep girth and their quarters are strong with good bones and feet. They are bay (a reddish brown colour) with black legs, mane and tail. A small white star is permitted on their face, provided it is no larger than a 20 cent piece. They are known as excellent coach horses and have been used in the royal stables in England.


Cleveland Bay horses are known for their intelligence, their sensible, placid temperament and their strength. The breed is a natural jumper and when crossed with the Thoroughbred produces top class hunters, show jumpers, carriage horses and dressage performers.

Health and lifespan

Cleveland Bay horses are long lived with an average lifespan of more than 25 years. As they are tall some individuals can experience problems related to their height. Purebred Cleveland Bays are quite hardy but part-bred horses can suffer from:

A condition called Roarers – a paralysis of the left side of the throat, which causes abnormal breathing noises during intense exercise.
They can also suffer from OCD (osterochondrosis dessicans), cartilage damage to joints which results in swelling and lameness.

Vets recommend selecting a breeding horse which has a diverse genetic background, or one that has been crossed with a Thoroughbred to produce a hardier horse. Nonetheless, the problems mentioned above are rare.

Breeding and costs

Cleveland Bays don’t reach full maturity until they are seven years old. Cleveland Bays are often crossed with Thoroughbreds to produce a good looking horse which is less flighty and heavier boned than a Thoroughbred. Breeders recommend breaking-in horses from three years old. There are about 40 pure bred Cleveland Bays in Australia and costs range from $2000-$10,000 for an unbroken horse and $4000-$10,000 for a broken-in horse, depending on the animal’s quality.

Space and ideal owner

Cleveland Bay horses can be kept in a paddock or stabled. If they are stabled they need daily exercise. Breeders recommend Cleveland Bays and part-bred horses for experienced riders. They are usually too big to be used as a child’s pony. Cleveland Bays and part-breds are suited to riding, jumping, dressage and even herding cattle.


Like all horses Cleveland Bays need regular grooming to remove dead and loose hair and dirt. The horses need shoeing every six weeks, which costs about $50-$70 and regular worming about every eight weeks. This costs about $16 each time.


It is believed Cleveland Bays horses evolved from horses left in Britain by the Romans. By the Middle Ages they had evolved into strong, sturdy pack horses and were then crossed with imported Andalusian horses from the Mediterranean to produce the Cleveland Bay. As the name suggests the horses were named for Cleveland, Yorkshire in England where they worked as pack horses. The word ‘Bay’ in the name refers to the horses’ colour.

They were powerful horses and were known for their ability to pull coaches including royal coaches in Britain. After the introduction of the motor vehicle, numbers of Cleveland Bays declined to near extinction. But for the past 40 years efforts by British horse breeders, including Queen Elizabeth, who is Patron of the British Cleveland Bay Society, have ensured that numbers have increased to about 500 horses worldwide.

Further information

Sue Cullen
Phone: (02) 4474 2613

Julia McLaughlin
Phone: (07) 5465 1553

Cleveland Bay Horse Society of Australasia Inc.
Secretary: Jill Dunstall
Post Office, Wistow 5251
Phone/fax: (08) 8391 3325
mobile: 014 677 956

Jean Goldfinch
Phone: (03) 6436 2130

Vicki Jones
Phone: (03) 5968 8077

Sales Register: Chris Fountain
Phone: (03) 5942 7405

Corrinne Adams
Phone: (08) 9854 1022